Nebraska in January can be a little dreary with nothing but stubble and windblown snow across the brown fields. Having lived in the state as a child I knew what to expect from the weather and scenery. So I wasn’t particularly looking forward to attending the Nebraska Concrete Conference in 2013. Jereme Montgomery, executive director of the Nebraska Concrete & Aggregate Association, picked me up at the airport in Omaha and drove me halfway across the state to Kearney, stopping only for one of Nebraska’s world-famous Runza sandwiches. Driving through the growing dark, Jereme told me of his journey from wrestler to concrete enthusiast, and I knew this trip would be worthwhile despite the gloom out the window. Over the past four years, I’ve seem Jereme at various industry meetings, always curious and always looking for ways to promote and advance concrete. Now he has taken up the issue of workforce development and is finding great success. That’s why Jereme is one of this year’s Most Influential People in Concrete Construction—he was also recognized by The Concrete Producer as one of the most influential in concrete production.

Our other three Most Influential choices this year are Heather Brown, Jim Cornell, and Steve Lloyd. A common theme among all four of these industry leaders is educating young people about concrete and the realities of construction. I hope you enjoy reading about them here. Or meet them in person at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17, at the CC Live booth during the World of Concrete.

WOC is Upon Us

By the time you receive the January issue, 2017 World of Concrete will be about to start—or maybe you are reading this at the show. Either way, it’s not too late to see everything this edition of WOC has to offer. The Polished Concrete Luncheon on Tuesday, Jan., 17 focuses on maintaining a polished floor—not always as easy as one might think. On Wednesday, the panel at the Quality in Concrete Slabs Luncheon will explore what an owner expects in a concrete floor today. Do they expect too much? Hear leading slabs experts, including Bruce Suprenant, Tommy Ruttura, and Bryan Birdwell, discuss the issue in depth.

Trial of the Century

One of the more unique seminars at WOC this year will be led by Peter Craig (as Sherlock Holmes) and featuring other leading actors, including Scott Tarr and Roland Vierra. Peter calls this session “On Trial for a Moisture-Related Flooring Failure.” It will be a theatrical presentation of a mock trial where the various parties to a lawsuit will present the facts and background that led to the flooring failure and the judge and jury will decide who is responsible. Knowing Peter Craig’s flair for drama, I’m sure this will be both fun and informative. The event takes place at 8 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 17.